Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 16 August 2007

Guide to the Premier League 2007/08: Part 4

And so to the final part of our look at the prospective futures laid out ahead for the Premier League's great and good. We begin today with...

Reading
Chris O: "I get the impression Steve Coppell won't find things quite as easy this season. I know people talk about the 'Second Season syndrome', but I think there's definitely something in it. Aside from that, though, he's released Steve Sidwell to Chelsea and have made precious few signings of any note to replace him. They still have some quality players, but my feeling is they'll slip down the table a little bit." Verdict: Bottom half.
Smart: "Second season syndrome. Sold Steve Sidwell. ('She sells sea-shells…') I don’t see Reading being relegated, but I can’t see them finishing as high up the table as they did in their first season." Verdict: Bottom half.

Sunderland
Chris O: "I was one of many to be impressed by the way Roy Keane turned things around for Sunderland last season, and I think he'll give them the strength and spirit they need to hold their own in the top flight in 2007/08. If he can get the best out of Michael Chopra and Kieran Richardson, maybe a top-half finish could be possible..." Verdict: Bottom half.
Smart: "Quite a few signings, but £9 million on a keeper? I can't help thinking that would have been better spent on a midfield playmaker or center-forward, but time will tell. The strongest of the promoted sides? I think so. I also think the will still be close to the relegation zone. And I can’t wait to see Roy Keane face to face with the Arsenal Wenger on the touchline. Get tickets for that one at all costs!” Verdict: Bottom half.

Tottenham
Chris O: "I think the time has come for Tottenham to leapfrog Arsenal and become one of the top four this season. Berbatov and Keane were particularly impressive in 2006/07 and with new signings like Gareth Bale and Darren Bent, it can only get better - but Jermaine Defoe needs to start pulling his weight and that defence needs to tighten up a bit. Expect more greatness from Martin Jol, though... Verdict: Champions League spot.
Smart: "Plenty of people are tipping Spurs to finish fourth, but I can’t see it, personally. With clubs such as Portsmouth, Newcastle and Manchester City strengthening well I think Spurs will have a battle on their hands to retain fifth place, let alone go any higher. Plenty of options upfront, but it’s the conceding of soft goals that will be undoing of the Spurs season. So a normal season then. Keep an eye on Adel Taarabt though, quite a talented young fellow." Verdict: UEFA Cup spot.

West Ham
Chris O: "One thing's for certain - West Ham won't top last season for dramatic incident. Out goes Tevez, sadly, but in comes a wealth of exciting prospects in all areas: Scott Parker, Craig Bellamy, Freddie Ljungberg, the return of Dean Ashton... it can only strengthen the side, but can Curbishley get them performing well as a unit? I think they'll improve on last season without setting the league on fire." Verdict: Top half.
Smart: "West Ham’s strength seems to be up front with Craig Bellamy and Dean Ashton looking like a good pairing. But beyond that I don’t see too much else. Robert Green and Scott Parker shine out in a team with the likes of Hayden Mullins, Matthew Etherington, Lee Bowyer… Alan Curbishley loved the mid-table with Charlton and I think he will be thereabouts this season." Verdict: Mid-table.

Wigan Athletic
Chris O: "Paul Jewell's gone. Arjan de Zeeuw's gone. Leighton Baines has gone. Even Emile Heskey's legs have gone, and all that can mean one thing - Wigan's chances of staying in the Premier League have gone. Chris Hutchings' new signings of Sibierski, Melchiot and Bramble might freshen the look of the side up a bit, but there's only one outcome for me - The Championship next season." Verdict: Relegated.
Smart: "I really feel that Wigan will struggle this season. Chris Hutchings has a lot of work on his hands, and if a relegation dog-fight ensues then he may not be the best man to be at the helm. Sibierski, Koumas and Landzaat all have the potential to save Wigan but it will be a big ask." Verdict: Relegated.

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